Friday, August 08, 2008

No-Knock warrants

If you are a gun blogger, you've read this by now...Short version: Someone sends a fed-ex package with 30+ pounds of pot to the Mayor's wife. Police intercept then deliver the package. When the mayor brings the package inside, Police do a no-knock warrant and shoot his dogs, then track dog blood all over the house. Police now say the mayor is innocent, and the package was part of a scheme with the Fed-Ex driver implicated. Police took several days to even apologize.

Something needs to be done about paramilitary tactics and no-knock warrants.

To some extent, it is understandable that they would be overused--We expect police to aggressively and effectively fight crime, and no-knocks are useful to police. Whether they are justified is another story.

So what should we do? The simple answer is to eliminate no-knocks, but that isn't realistic--There are some (albeit relatively rare) cases where they are needed and justified.

  • Police should be responsible for damages, including professional cleanup under almost all circumstances, to give them more incentive to minimize damage. Family pets are worth substantially more than "book value"--Enough that officers don't routinely shoot them.
  • We have the technology at a reasonable price for each officer to have a video camera. This should be mandatory, with exclusionary penalties if the cameras 'oops, didn't work'. (Unless the "didn't work" was provably engineered by the target)
  • There needs to be a clear and compelling reason why some other method can't be used--Preservation of evidence is rarely justification. Judges are to blame here. We possibly need specific judges to handle no-knocks, so police can't judge-shop.
We also need to understand that SWAT teams may be necessary even if they are rarely used. Police shouldn't be required to use the teams regularly to maintain the SWAT budget.

6 comments:

  1. Break the windows and doors, burn the paint with flashbangs, yell, curse, point guns, manhandle people, shoot the dogs, track blood all over, toss the house...
    Even if the mayor had been the biggest pot distributor in town, would this be professional law enforcement behavior?

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  2. It depends on circumstances. With what they knew, no, this isn't professional. Had intelligence been used (in either sense of the word) this would have been avoided.

    Where this type of tactical entry is justified is fairly limited--If the suspect is known to be violent, and other methods to arrest him have been tried and failed. The problem is that it has become the default, the first step in too many circumstances. This is especially true with actions that cannot be undone, like killing family pets.

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  3. How about going one step back, or one step forward, depending on your perspective? Let's make most drugs legal or at least non-criminal, and make it so police do not have to decide to knock or not knock--at least in the example you used.

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  4. I agree that drugs should be decriminalized or legalized, and that would solve 90% of this problem, plus a lot more. I don't think it would result in more drug use (other than pot) but it would result in fewer people victimized, both by criminals involved with drugs and in lost freedom. If done right, it would also make it harder for kids to get drugs, and I'm pretty sure that would have a long-term affect of reducing hard drug use.

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  5. i had a backandforth with tam a while back on no-knocks; i had a close relationship for many years with le guys at all levels, and i was taking up for them while railing against the no-knocks and their genesis, but tam was kind of hung up on one case, and she had a point, but she was kind of missing mine...if interested it's here:

    http://poetnthepawnbroker.blogspot.com/2008/04/knockin-no-knock.html

    sevesteen jewels, huh? that's pretty damn funny right there...

    jtc

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  6. Pawnbroker:

    Great minds think alike, I can't argue with anything you've said there.

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